When we work on creating a new website we usually start with its name. I’m not saying that this is the best task to begin with. We probably could focus on something else in this early stage of work (things like doing some basic market research), but the temptation of coming up with a name is just too big to resist. … So I don’t even try to fight it. Every single time I start with a name and I feel good about it 🙂
There are literally thousands of factors which can be taken into account when inventing a name. I usually focus on just six of them, in this order:
- Type of the name
- Ease of memorizing
So how to choose a domain name? Let’s get straight to the point.
1. Type of the name
This is the first decision. A name of certain type will clearly determine the website itself and the market which the website covers, it will also help the potential visitors to decide whether they want to check it out or not… or it won’t.
Cutting the story short, there are basically only 3 main types: semantic, unusual, and combined. So after you choose the right one for you, you can proceed to the next point.
This one doesn’t really require any additional comment… you can’t register a name that has already been registered.
You can always use a suffix, though.
3. Ease of memorizing
This is a key factor. If your name is hard to memorize then guess what… no one will memorize it.
So it can’t be too complicated or too long. You have to make the website as easy to reach as possible. The shorter name the better.
(Yea I know… this website is called newInternetOrder.com. There’s nothing like breaking your own rules. But it’s not really that hard to memorize, is it? – feedback, anyone?)
Try to create the name in a way that it contains as much information about your website as possible.
It’s a difficult task if you’ve chosen an unusual name, and only slightly easier with a combined name. The goal is to notify the visitor what the website is about using the name itself.
If you are using a semantic name, then the job is pretty much done. For example if you have a toy store somewhere in Omaha, then the name omahatoystore.com is self explanatory.
(Yea I know… breaking my own rules again.)
Starting with an example. Even if you can put your hands on a domain like cocacola.xxx, I still wouldn’t advise you to do so. This one is obvious, but it’s always good to check if the domain that interests you, can be actually legally registered.
A rule of thumb. Don’t register anything containing a trademark (except the situation when you have the rights to use it).
Having a boring domain is just… boring. So go ahead and make sure your domain is interesting, alive, energetic, etc. … just make sure that it’s cool enough.
7. (bonus) what about the dashes?
Many people advise that you shouldn’t use dashes in the domain name. I can say that I have my opinion on that one but I don’t agree with it (doesn’t make any sense, I know).
I think that names without dashes are better. They are easier to rank in the search engines (when it comes to specific keywords other than the name itself). They are better-looking. They are easier to memorize, and they are easier to dictate over the phone.
As life shows, having a domain with dashes hadn’t stopped many successful websites from having the impact they had. So it doesn’t really matter that much.
But let me give you a little hint. If you want to use a semantic name, and try to target specific keywords within your niche, then it’s better to use a name without dashes. These types of websites tend to get better rankings in Google for the keywords contained in them.
If you are not going to use a semantic name, then it doesn’t really matter whether you use dashes or not.
Next step: domain name registration
That’s pretty much it when it comes to the hints on how to choose a domain name. As you can see, sometimes I don’t apply to couple of them, but it’s always better to be aware of their existence and to make conscious decisions. (There’s nothing like a good excuse.)
So if you already know what name you’re going to use, then the only thing left now is to register it. And when you are done with that – just like I said in one of the previous posts – the journey has just begun. Because creating, and then promoting a new website is a never-ending story.
Let me know what you think about this whole thing, and don’t forget to mention what factors you focus on when you try to come up with names for your websites.
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